Thursday, September 15, 2016

What I Have Learned About Failure From Author Beth Revis...

Every writer has her own journey, but of all the author success stories I have heard and read over my years as an aspiring writer, Beth Revis's journey inspired me the most! So I want to share with you what she shared with me, and the thousands of people who have already seen...

...this video:

Beth says: Everyone says, "It'll get easier!" But they are lying to your face.

Failure is really just success in training. 

Beth's first book, Across the Universe was much hyped when it first came out, and for good reason. It had one of those beginnings that is so absolutely, perfectly written you would wait in line just to read the next chapter, and you would read through the night just to find the resolution of the killer problem she introduced so beautifully in chapter one. I read her first chapter online and was immediately hooked. In fact, I can compare it with only a handful of other first chapters that have moved and shocked me to a similar extent. Her first chapter alone guaranteed her a spot on that bestseller list. Of course the rest of the series is killer, as well, so that helps!

But seeing this video after I read her first book really gave me the greatest gift I could have received as a struggling and aspiring writer:

The Gift of Perspective.

Thank you, Beth Revis, for being so real! That amazing first chapter, that beautiful prose and shocking intro was the master stroke of an artist who had been honing her craft for years. It wasn't a first draft. It wasn't a lucky step into the darkness. It was the hand of a practiced surgeon. The perspective she gave me saved me from making the mistake of saying, "Well, she's just so talented, and I could never do that." The knowledge of her nine previous unpublished manuscripts forced me to acknowledge the fact that I simply wasn't trying as hard, that I could be a better version of myself if I did.

One more lesson from Beth:

Always write the story of your heart. 

In the first installment of her book series for writers, called Paper Hearts, Beth explains what her particular objective was as a writer--to be published by a big press--and that she didn't regret writing any of her "practice" novels, except for one.

That was the book she wrote "for the market." The book was good, she explains, because she was up to date on all the trends in the publishing industry and she knew exactly what tropes to keep and which to avoid. But as she came closer to getting it published, she pulled it, and the reason was that there was nothing of her in it. It was empty.

Her advice to aspiring writers is not to make the same mistake by trying to please the market. Write the book of your heart, every time, no matter how painful it can be to let go if it's not "the one."

This advice came to me at a time when I needed to hear it, too.

(Her Paper Hearts series is chock-full of great counsel for writers in all stages of development. The video above came from the first free online writing conference ever, WriteOnCon, and is a great example of the many ways Beth has given back to the writing community. The founders of Operation Awesome were inspired by all the writers who put together WriteOnCon, and since our launch in 2010, our ever-changing team of operatives has been working toward that same worthy ideal.)


Have you ever heard the perfect writing advice for you at exactly the right time? What's the best writing advice you've ever received? 


Unknown said...

This is a great story. Every writer has unpublished manuscripts in their back pocket. They say you have to write 1,000,000 words in your life to get bad words out of your system. But writing is still hard after those 1,000,000 words. But eventually you get something right.

Leandra Wallace said...

Great video! I've actually been thinking the WiP I'm on right now could be 'the one'. But if it isn't, I'll go on to the next, for sure. Also, Beth Revis is writing the introduction for the 2017 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide that I have a short story in. I was beyond excited when I found that out!!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

That is very exciting! I'll keep an eye out for it!